Light bulbs – sermon for 15 Jan 2017

This is the season of Epiphany. An Epiphany is a sudden realization about something. We sometimes feel like some puzzle has been solved, like some great truth which has been hidden under a sheet has suddenly been revealed. In an instant, our understanding clicks into focus, and something suddenly makes sense. {See the readings for this Sunday here}

Epiphanies can be great or small. You might have an epiphany about the motivations of a difficult coworker which help you to understand your history of conflict. You might have an epiphany that, in fact, you do like to eat Brussels sprouts after all, if only they are cooked in the right way. Epiphanies don’t have to be major discoveries, but they do all share that quality of a sudden discovery. Continue reading Light bulbs – sermon for 15 Jan 2017

On praying for the President

Apparently there’s a big debate going on in some churchy circles about whether to include Mr Trump’s name in the prayers of the people for those in secular authority. Of course it should be included, if that’s been the practice in the parish in the past. Praying for someone is not ever an endorsement of that person; indeed, Jesus was pretty blunt about it. To refuse to pray for someone is, in essence, to say that they are beyond the boundary of love, which is cruelty, or beyond the power of God, which is heresy. Let us at least believe that prayer still has a little worth.

I know it’s not an easy thing for some of us to do right now. Let us recognize that it is a thing we should aim for, and may God grant us all the strength and compassion to do it. Let us not try to talk the church out of striving for Christ’s high standard. And God grant us all mercy.

Name Above All Names – Sermon for 1 Jan 2017

Happy New Year! Today, January 1st, is New Year’s Day, the first day of 2017 in our calendar. It is also a feast in the church calendar, January 1st. The basis of our feast is basically what we heard in our Gospel reading’s last verse: “After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” Continue reading Name Above All Names – Sermon for 1 Jan 2017

Sacred Waters – Sermon for 8 Jan 2017

Jesus Christ was baptized in the river Jordan. 6 years ago this very week I was in the Holy Land, on a tour offered through the Anglican Cathedral there. We went all over the place: Jerusalem, Galilee, Nazareth… and along the Jordan river, which flows from the Sea of Galilee down to the Dead Sea. Along the banks of the river there is not one but several spots which are “the authentic location” where Jesus was baptized. You can go there and be baptized, or renew your baptismal vows, (And of course they all have gift shops!). I don’t mean to make light of it. The Jordan River is a sacred river in our tradition. But we don’t know for sure where Jesus stepped off its banks and into the water. {See the readings for this Sunday} Continue reading Sacred Waters – Sermon for 8 Jan 2017

2017 Epiphany Proclamation

The date of Easter moves back and forth from year to year. A host of other important dates all depend on Easter. This proclamation announces the important dates of the church calendar to come, and in a way weaves together the whole of the liturgical year into a beautiful arc. The proclamation is made on Epiphany (January 6th, Friday this year) and the Sunday following. 

For another Epiphany tradition, the blessing of Chalk (and using chalk to bless homes), see this post from a few  years ago. 

THE EPIPHANY PROCLAMATION FOR THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 2017

Dear brothers and sisters,

the glory of the Lord has shone upon us, and shall ever be manifest among us, until the day of his return. Through the rhythms of times and seasons let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.

Let us recall the year’s culmination, the Easter Triduum of the Lord: his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial, and his rising celebrated between the evening of the Thirteenth day of April and the evening of the Fifteenth day of April, Easter Sunday being on the Sixteenth day of April.

Each Easter — as on each Sunday — the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed by which Christ has for ever conquered sin and death. From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, will occur on the First day of March.

The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on Thursday, the Twenty-fifth day of May.

Pentecost, joyful conclusion of the season of Easter, will be celebrated on the Fourth day of June.

And, this year the First Sunday of Advent will be on the Third day of December.

Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the passover of Christ in the feasts of the holy Mother of God, in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints, and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.

To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come, Lord of time and history, be endless praise, for ever and ever.

Amen.

John Keble on the Circumcision of Christ

THE YEAR begins with Thee,
And Thou beginn’st with woe,
To let the world of sinners see
That blood for sin must flow.

Thine infant cries, O Lord,
Thy tears upon the breast,
Are not enough—the legal sword
Must do its stern behest.

Like sacrificial wine
Pour’d on a victim’s head
Are those few precious drops of Thine,
Now first to offering led.

They are the pledge and seal
Of Christ’s unswerving faith
Given to His Sire, our souls to heal,
Although it cost His death.

They to His Church of old,
To each true Jewish heart
In Gospel graces manifold
Communion blest impart.

Now of Thy love we deem
As of an ocean vast,
Mounting in tides against the stream
Of ages gone and past.

Both theirs and ours thou art,
As we and they are Thine;
Kings, Prophets, Patriarchs—all have part
Along the sacred line.

By blood and water too
God’s mark is set on Thee,
That in Thee every faithful view
Both covenants might see.

O bond of union, dear
And strong as is thy grace!
Saints parted by a thousand year,
May thus in heart embrace.

Is there a mourner true,
Who, fallen on faithless days,
Sighs for the heart-consoling view
Of those Heaven deign’d to praise?

In spirit may’st thou meet
With faithful Abraham here,
Whom soon in Eden thou shalt greet,
A nursing Father dear.

Would’st thou a Poet be?
And would thy dull heart fain
Borrow of Israel’s minstrelsy
One high enraptured strain?

Come here thy soul to tune,
Here set thy feeble chant,
Here, if at all beneath the moon,
Is holy David’s haunt.

Art thou a child of tears,
Cradled in care and woe?
And seems it hard, thy vernal years
Few vernal joys can show?

And fall the sounds of mirth
Sad on thy lonely heart,
From all the hopes and charms of earth
Untimely called to part?

Look here, and hold thy peace:
The Giver of all good
Even from the womb takes no release
From suffering, tears, and blood.

If thou would’st reap in love,
First sow in holy fear:
So life a winter’s morn may prove
To a bright endless year.

Newborn – sermon for Christmas Eve 2016

I love Christmas. Don’t you? This time of year isn’t like any other time. The whole season is wrapped in wonderful traditions and customs. We have special music and special movies and special food and drink. We have parties and presents. Santa and the reindeer. Salvation army bell-ringers outside the stores. Bing Crosby on the radio. Trees in our living rooms, and of course Christmas Eve church services, which I’m sure you’ll agree are the highlight of the Christmas season. Continue reading Newborn – sermon for Christmas Eve 2016

The Christmas Proclamation

The Christmas Proclamation can be read or chanted before any of the liturgies of Christmas. It doesn’t replace any of the parts of the mass. 

THE PROCLAMATION OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD

Today, the twenty–fifth day of December,
unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth
and then formed man and woman in his own image.

when century upon century had passed
since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
as a sign of covenant and peace;

Twenty–one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah;
thirteen centuries after Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges;
one thousand years from the anointing of David as king;
in the sixty–fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel.

In the one hundred and ninety–fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty–second year from the foundation of the city of Rome.

The forty–second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary.

Today is the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh

Luke’s Christmas: God Born For Humanity – Sermon for 3 Advent 2016

We have two different Christmas stories in the Bible. Last week, we looked at Matthew’s gospel, with wicked King Herod and the crafty wise men. We talked about Jesus as the new Moses, coming to humanity with a new Law and a new liberation. [See the mass readings for this Sunday]

This week, we turn to St. Luke and his version of the Christmas story. While Matthew shows Jesus as a solidly Jewish Messiah fulfilling the Jewish prophecies of salvation, Luke emphasizes different things. It is a Jesus who was come for the marginalized of human society, for those who struggle at the edges – for women and for the poor, for gentiles and prostitutes and thieves. Luke also highlights the divine presence of the Holy Spirit more strongly than the other gospels. Luke’s Christmas story is filled with songs, too. And we sing or say these songs at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer and at Compline every day. [To learn more about praying the Daily Office, see my podcast: Daily Office User’s Guide] Continue reading Luke’s Christmas: God Born For Humanity – Sermon for 3 Advent 2016

Matthew’s Christmas Story — sermon for 2 Advent 2016

I don’t know if you know this or not, but our Sunday readings are on a three year cycle, called, creatively, year a, year b, and year c. Now, each of the three years focuses on one of three gospels. Year C, which we just finished, focused on the gospel of Luke. Year B, Mark’s Gospel, and last Sunday we started in on year A, and that focuses on Matthew. [See the readings for this Sunday]

Today, I want to step back from the the readings and have a broader look at what Matthew tells us about Christmas. It’s not yet Christmas, of course, but we’re preparing for Christmas. It’s always helpful for us to return to the Bible, to what the Scriptures tell us about Christmas, and what they don’t tell us. And next week, we’ll do the same for Luke’s version of the Christmas story.

Continue reading Matthew’s Christmas Story — sermon for 2 Advent 2016